I'm the last person you have to convince about the value of play, physical activity, and free time for children. Seriously -- that's my parenting mantra. Well sort of.
But with a plethora of structured activities for the toddler set, children getting tested just to get on a waiting list for preschools, elementary schools getting rid of recess and other creative programming, I'm thinking there are lots of parents that do need some help in letting their kids be kids.
And that's what Rae Pica's new book A Running Start; does -- in a fairly gentle and encouraging manner, mind you. Not one ounce of guilt to be found. Just good solid research and support.
Hooray for that, right?
I found myself nodding my head so hard it hurt, and really, the book does a lot of convincing (maybe a little too much). Rae talks extensively about the value of the act of "doing" and "playing" for children in a non-structured and creative environment. We're often fooled by new and exciting television shows, video games, and computer programs, when really, good old fashioned blocks, dress-up, tag, and whatever else WE used to do as kids is better.
Rae explores our standards for "smart" as well as whether our children are getting enough "free play" time at school (chances are they are not). And I love her section on how and when to choose the right structured program for your children. She talks about teaching compassion as opposed to competition and fostering imagination in our children, but most of all, she says "family first" - play games together, pretend together, and be together.
This book is a calling for all of us to slow down -- to turn off the boob tube -- and the computer -- and be with our children. It's a calling for us to let them play as children like to play as means for them to learn, explore, and grow.
And it's about believing that smart isn't just about the books and tests and ivy league schools. Smart is letting kids be kids.
If you'd like to win a copy of this book (maybe there's a competimommy that you could slip it to), then write down your favorite family game or play activity in the comments. I'll pick a winner tomorrow afternoon at random.